A Travellerspoint blog

2014 - AEGEAN ODYSSEY - SANTORINI


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Moving on to Santorini. I have been here before & so know what to expect.

Rain.

And I was not disappointed. It did rain quite a lot but strangely when I was under cover.

Breakfast first - out on the terrace with Santorini as a back-drop. Not too shabby.

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The buffet has the same set up as evening except the food changes. All the usual suspects, well presented & lots of it.

Into the lounge to await the call for Pink group. It's gong to be a long day today with an included stop for lunch at a 'Typical Taverna'.

We have to tender ashore & unlike just about every other tender port I have been to, Santorini sends out it's own tender. Quite large ferry type vessels to get lots of people ashore at one go.

We head away from the closest town of Fira I suspect because the only way up the hill is by funicular or donkey & would take up too much time

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It's not long before we get to Oia & the guide drops us in the square by the church, gives us directions to varous lookout spots & two hours to get back to the bus.

Do you think this man is colour co-ordinated on purpose?

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Picture perfect .....

I head into a restaurant & up stairs to the roof for a coffee & some photo taking

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A favourite wedding photo spot is just below me .... People come here form all over the world to get married. Can't imagine why!

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My boat out there I think. That whole area is the caldera of a volcano and most of what we are on is the rim. One massive volcano.One massive explosion.

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An amusing piece of outdoor art & ...

what nice boots the bride has .... Careful girl..

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Looks like rush hour with another wedding in the middle. Paul & Therese just to her left. We spent a lot of time together on the ship.

This guy could care less ....

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old & newer Santorini together ...

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A last glimpse of the happy couple & we are off to the Archaeological dig at Akrotiri

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I expected to get very wet here as it was pouring with rain but the dig is completely covered.

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The site is very well laid out and the radio commentary from our very knowledgeable guide was excellent. Except that my group of 30 some people were strung out so much on the narrow walkways that I started to pick up some other tours commentary. Took me a while to realise I was listenting to a different lady, but noticed my ladies lips were not moving.

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The last time I was here it was on a three thousand passenger cruise ship. This time the ship has 300. Which makes lunch strange. From the big ship, lunch was in a restaurant that held our bus load of about 30 - 40. This time we had lunch in a wedding venue & the entire boat was there. Small ship sailing does not always equate to a more intimate experience.

I could have come down the cliff by donkey but chickened out & took the funicular.

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Grace, a waitress from the ship was excited that she took the donkey up & down the cliff. Good that the girls get some free time off the ship occasionally.

All that rain presages a storm coming.

A storm at sea - lovely.

Posted by hasbeen 16:24 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

2014 - AEGEAN ODYSSEY - SYROS


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Only half an hour from the hotel to the ship docked at Pireaus & getting on board was a snap. I noticed the Swan-Hellenic cruise ship Minerva just leaving as I arrived. I will be on that ship in January. Pity I did not see a bit more of it.

My cabin is the cheapest I could find & it shows, but it is adequate for me. Two small single beds that cannot be combined to make one. First time I have come across that. The Air Con is roaring and freezing & I cannot find a regulator until much later. It is on the ceiling. Even with it off the room is still very cold. Under the duvet it is too warm. I never did get used to the temperature on this ship. I was either too hot or too cold unless I was outdoors.

It did not take long to find the casual restaurant aft. Turn left at the entrance & there is a line up of about eight young fellas ready to help the passengers, all with big grins & 'Welcome aboard'. One tells me the special of the day & points me to my tray already with a plate. I circle the circular buffet. A selection of breads, salady stuff, then a guy making a salad to order, a soup guy, a carvery guy, another guy serving hot veggies and stuff, then the grill guy.
All Philipino behind buffet.

Coming to the end another guy takes the tray off the counter & hands it to yet another guy to take my plate to whatever table takes my fancy. Lots of tables to choose from indoors but I head to the door taking me outdoors, passing more food laid out on a large table.

Deserts - later.

Outside there are collapsible, canvas chairs set at tables for two four & eight. Some under cover, some in the sun. More food out here too. A tapas table & a grill station. I take a seat & meet my first booze waitress. Kadeck. Easy to remember. I remember that wine is complimentary with meals but only the evening meal. This is lunch.

Enough time before the abandon ship drill for a stroll around the ship. No frills & pretty basic. Not luxurious by any means but quite comfortable looking.

After the safety drill where we actually went to the lifeboat, there was the welcome aboard meeting. The Cruise director introduced members of staff, described what we could expect aboard etc. He thinks himself very funny but is a bit of a plank.

After dinner, again out on deck we have already set sail & it's an early night to be ready for the island of Syros

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All the passengers have been allocated a colour coded excursion 'group'. There are Road Scholars & AHI - two American travel groups, and a few V2A groups. Mine is pink.. The daily journal has directed which lounge & at what time the various colours should assemble.

This is going to be a half day walking tour of Empouli. Everyone has the same tour except that Road Scholars & AHI people will retain the same tour guide at each stop. At least in Greece but I may be wrong about that.

My pink group of about 30 people is led through the town .....

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by a young lady, up hill to visit this church ......

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And more street walking ...

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for a visit inside a very old theater. Still used by the locals & our guide performs here ...

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into another church ...

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where there is a 'discovered' El Greco painting that I did not manage to get a photo of.

After this , the guide escorts us towards the ship. We can either board for lunch of stay in town for the afternoon.

She had been keeping a running commentary on our radio headphones. Suppled by V2A, A great feature this. Plug them in overnight in the cabin.

I choose to sit by the sea and try an Ouzo. I am joined by Randy from BC & Tom from the US. I had met these two at the hotel in Athens.

Then we split & I head off to the back streets to find a bit of lunch in this restaurant, complete with lucky black cat ...

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Lunch was some fried Cheese - very squeeky. Mussles & bread & a Greek beer.

Greek is not the easiest of languages to read as there are non-english characters. This ad in the restaurant gives an example of the translation for Asprin ....

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Evening meal was again on the terrace but as I had eaten not long before at lunch, I had a slice of all the cheeses available. The Tapas table is close by & the 'Snack Boy' - that was really his title - delivered some of his morsels for me.

That became something of a routine for me, only having dinner in the more formal downstairs restaurant twice the entire cruise. And eating a larger lunch than diner.

Cheese on this ship was excellent, unlike most cruises I have been on where it is mostly tasteless & can be used as a bouncy ball.

At dinner I also meet more booze waitresses. Kadeck has gone awol and been replaced by the lovelies, Grace, Lorraine and Andrea. The girls do not keep count of what you are drinking & offer White. Red - beer or soda all through meal time - 7:00 to 9:00

After dinner some quiet time in the lounge listening to the girl on violin who sings like Edith Piaf and her piano accompanist.

A before bed cup of camomile tea from Irish - yet another Philipino waitress and it's the island of Santorini tomorrow.

Posted by hasbeen 05:01 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

2014 - AEGEAN ODYSSEY - ATHENS


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This is a cruise with a UK company called Voyages to Antiquity aboard their one & only ship - the Aegean Odyssey

They don't only travel in the Aegean, but this cruise will cruise that sea & also the Black Sea.

It is not an all inclusive cruise but almost. First they are going to get me from Ottawa to Montreal which was right on time & Montreal to Athens, ditto.

I had two surprises at Montreal. First up was that I get to sit next to a young beauty from the USA. This is very rare, in my experience, but it did not last long. As soon as the plane reached altitude I switched seats so her equally pretty friend could sit with her. I moved back down the plane & sat with a lady, Laurie, who will actually be on the same cruise as me. That was the second surprise,

Laurie & I spent the next 9 hours talking. Fastest crossing of the Atlantic I have ever done.

Landing at Athens, the immigration is a bit of a shambles. I say goodbye to the two young lovelies & Laurie. Passport in hand, I am approaching the immigration desk when someone jumps the line in front of me. The immigration guy glances at my passport from 4 paces away and waves me passed the jumper. Could not possibly have seen my passport detail, but I am into Greece. Five minutes later my bag is off the carousel & I am looking for the V 2 A representative who is right in front of the line. A short wait for two other passengers & a quick walk to the parking lot & we are on the bus to the hotel.

There are three of us on the transfer to the hotel. The other two are also from Ottawa. About 40 minutes later we pull up at the hotel & the Bell Boy whisks the suitcase away to the room.

A short wait to check in and see the V 2 A Rep who gives me the program for my two night in Athens.

Amazingly efficient & full marks to V 2 A.

The hotel is the King George, almost an annex of the slightly fancier Grande Bretagne next door. It's a strange hotel. No coffee bar or bar on the ground floor. No shop either. The bath is very nice but only a hand held shower. First time I have had a bath in I don't know how long.

This is the view from the terrace of the hotels restaurant ....... some old building on top of a hill spoiling the view ....

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The hotel is right in the heart of downtown & after a nap I take a walk around the nearby streets. All crowded with people at 9:00 at night. Pleasant temperature. A nice evening for sitting and watching the street life. I had a chat about football with a barman in a bar where there were lots of single ladies. It occurred to me they may have been hookers but if they were they were very well dressed & not blatant.

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V 2 A had laid on an excursion around Athens for the next day & here we are at stop #1 - the Olympic stadium ....

and passing the guards in dresses outside Parliament. Not quite as scary as the Scots in their kilts ..

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After a bit of a drive around it's time for the walk to the Acropolis.

As everyone knows, the Acropolis is the building on top of the hill overlooking Athens. At least that is what I always thought.

Not true - The Parthenon & other buildings are on top of the hill called the Acropolis & every little town in Greece has an Acropolis. I now know to avoid any excursion that mentions Acropolis since it translates to " way to many steps for me ".

Half way up ....

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On top ....

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It is very pretty though ...

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but - what goes up, must come down ....

After exhausting myself walking around the Acropolis site we get a bit of a break with a couple of hours around the quite wonderful Acropolis Museum It would be even more wonderful if the Brits would give them back the Elgin Marbles to add to the display. They have a space ready & waiting. Not gonna happen any time soon & that is just not cricket.

But - as the world knows, the Brits can't play cricket either.

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Mostly there are no photos allowed in the Museum but this is NIke & it was allowed to take photos in this area.

Hard to believe it's possible to carve something like that out of stone ...

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Another shot of the changing of the guard before the guide dropped us off at the hotel.

Later I took the Coastal Tram for over an hour to the end of the line. A lovely little commuter ride to & along the coast. Stops a lot & very crowded. Had a beer at an almost empty beech bar, watching the sun go down & the tram back to town. For old foggies the fare was one Euro 20 return. Not a bad deal.

Spent the rest of the evening wandering the same back streets by the hotel & found a great little music bar which again had lots of ladies. Must be a shortage of men here.

Next day it was just breakfast in the hotel & a stroll around the block, wasting time waiting for the transfer to the ship at Pireaus. There was another museum tour on offer which I passed on.

Again - very efficient on the part of V 2 A

The following day we will leave for the island of Syros.

I finished a cruise in Athens on 2011 & was not impressed. Too grey, too much Graffiti.

Still lots of Graffiti but I left with a much better impression this time.

Posted by hasbeen 15:23 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

2014 VOYAGE TO ANTIQUITY - ATHENS TO ISTANBUL

VIA THE AEGEAN & BLACK SEA


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2014 VOYAGE TO ANTIQUITY - AEGEAN & BLACK SEA

So - the trip is getting closer, it starts on 22nd September 2014, aboard the MV Aegean Odyssey, owned by the company called Voyages to Antiquity.

Due to the war in the Ukraine, the stops there have been canceled, along with the stop in Sochi, Russia.

There is now a stop in Romania & some in Greece. I am disappointed we go to Greece again. It will be nice for those who booked just the Black Sea portion of the cruise but I will have just come from Greece. The whole idea of the Black Sea Portion was to see the Sea. And we are going by Istanbul without stopping so I still only get the one day there & the day I get off to fly home.

Not a lot of 'at sea' days, so a bit intense but mostly just half day tours. Should be fun & pleasantly warm most of the time.

Here's the revised itinerary ......

Covering 5082 km / 3158 miles

I fly overnight to Athens for two nights in a Hotel. I may have time on my own here to visit Cape Sounion but for the most part excursions are included in the cruise price, plus a couple of non-included options.

"22 Sep
Monday" "Departure
Depart North America "
"23 Sep
Tuesday" "Athens, Greece
Arrival & transfer to hotel "
"24 Sep
Wednesday" "Athens, Greece
Included tour of the ACROPOLIS & Acropolis Museum "
"25 Sep
Thursday" "Athens, Greece
Free morning to explore. Transfer to Aegean Odyssey in Piraeus "
"26 Sep
Friday" "Syros, Greece
Tour including the Cathedral of St Nicholas & Church of Assumption "
"27 Sep
Saturday" "Santorini, Greece
Full day tour: morning visit to AKROTIRI, afternoon at Fira town "
"28 Sep
Sunday" "Kos, Greece
Visit the famous archaeological site of ASCLEPEION "
"29 Sep
Monday" "Rhodes, Greece
Morning tour to Old Town of RHODES, including Citadel of the Knights of St John "
"30 Sep
Tuesday" "Rhodes, Greece
An included tour to the Acropolis in LINDOS "
"01 Oct
Wednesday" "Antalya, Turkey
Visit the Hellenistic city of PERGE and Roman town of ASPENDOS "
"02 Oct
Thursday" "Fethiye, Turkey
A choice of two tours visiting either the ruins of the ancient city of PATARA or an ancient centre of prophecy and divination at TELMESSOS  "
"03 Oct
Friday" "Bodrum, Turkey
Sightseeing: the Mausoleum of Halicarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world "
"04 Oct
Saturday" "Izmir, Turkey
Sightseeing tour: EPHESUS, the ancient Roman capital "
"05 Oct
Sunday" "Izmir, Turkey
PERGAMON, including the remains of the altar of Zeus "
"06 Oct
Monday" "Canakkale, Turkey
A visit to ancient TROY or Gallipoli "
"07 Oct
Tuesday" "Istanbul, Turkey
City sightseeing tour including BLUE MOSQUE, HAGIA SOPHIA, Topkapi Palace. "
"08 Oct
Wednesday" "At sea
Cruising the Southern Coast of the Black Sea "
"09 Oct
Thursday" "Trabzon, Turkey
Morning tour to the SUMELA MONASTERY, Afternoon at leisure "
"10 Oct
Friday" "Batumi, Georgia
Tour of the BATUMI Botanic Gardens with over 1000 varieties of roses or Gonio Fortress  "
"11 Oct
Saturday" "At sea
 "
"12 Oct
Sunday" "Constanta, Romania
City sightseeing, including Ovid's square, Archaeological Museum and the orthodox cathedral St Peter & Paul.  "
"13 Oct
Monday" "Burgas, Bulgaria
Drive to Nessebur and enjoy a walk through Nessebur's Old town: Church Christ Pantokrator, 5th-century Old Metropolitan church, Archaeological Museum  "
"14 Oct
Tuesday" "At sea
 "
"15 Oct
Wednesday" "Thessalonica, Greece
A choice of two city tours: The Byzantine heritage of Thessalonica, including 5th-century basilica Agios Dimítrios & the Rotónda, or a trip to the ruins of Pella, the ancient Macedonian city.  "
"16 Oct
Thursday" "Kavala, Greece
Morning cruising past Mount Athos. Tour to the famous site of Philippi in the afternoon "
"17 Oct
Friday" "Lemnos, Greece
Free time to explore the Myrina. Cruising the Dardanelles & Sea of Marmara in the afternoon  "
"18 Oct
Saturday" "Istanbul, Turkey
Disembark and transfer to Istanbul airport for flight home "

Posted by hasbeen 11:51 Archived in Georgia Comments (0)

2015 H & A - SYDNEY TO VANCOUVER

THE FINAL SEGMENT OF A TRP THAT WILL START IN HONG KONG IN ANUARY 2015


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UNDER CONSTRUCTION - TEST 1

Stop 1/9on 2015 H & A - SYDNEY TO VANCOUVER
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

19 Apr 2015 - 19 Apr 2015

Posted by hasbeen 08:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

2015 PADMA - MEKONG, LUANG PRABANG

CRUISE ON THE MEKONG


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UNDER CONSTRUCTION

2015 PADMA - MEKONG, LUANG PRABANG

View in Planner
Covering 10277 km / 6386 miles

1 : Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Myanmar (Burma)
2 : Bangkok, Thailand
3 : Luang Prabang, Louangphabang, Laos
4 : Brunei
5 : Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
6 : Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Posted by hasbeen 08:52 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

2015 PADMA - IRRAWADY TO MANDALAY

A CRUISE ON THE IRRAWADY


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UNDER CONSTRUCTION

2015 PADMA - IRRAWADY TO MANDALY

View in Planner
Covering 2379 km / 1478 miles

1 : Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
2 : Yangon, Yangon Region, Myanmar (Burma)
3 : Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Myanmar (Burma)
4 : Katha, Sagaing, Myanmar (Burma)
5 : Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Myanmar (Burma)

Posted by hasbeen 08:46 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

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